BlueScope Steel shareholders have been skewered horribly by their management and board.
As gun-shy as they must be though, thanks to the latest sneaky $600 million life-or-death share raising, they risk being dudded again if they don’t take up the rights offer.
That’s because the stock is so cheap down here at 40 cents that the shares have more chance of going up than down – at least in the near term. Longer term, who knows?
Steel stocks in Europe and the US had a huge run overnight too, something which should provide some comfort as the $260 million retail raising kicks off today.
Countering this is the fact that the company falls out of the MSCI index this week and faces selling from overseas shareholders.
But the question must be put: did BlueScope seek offers for the business before making this massively diluting $600 million issue? Arguably, it should have, as the likes of a Japanese steel group might well have come to the party.
While it is true BlueScope has suffered the triple-whammy of a rising Australian dollar, spiralling iron ore input costs and falling steel prices the big capital raising really adds further insult to injury.
Here were shareholders who had just approved controversial cash bonuses for executives – despite a 40 per cent fall in the stock, a dumped dividend, a billion-dollar loss, a $160 million taxpayer handout and the sacking of a thousand workers.
Then, a few days after locking in their bonuses at the annual general meeting, Team Bluescope sends the share price reeling down from 60 cents to 40 cents with a rights issue. It doesn’t get much worse than that – although insult and injury are preferable to death, and at least they have avoided the latter.
Now the speculation will continue to unnerve rival OneSteel which has said it has no plans on the table to raise either equity or debt. But are there plans in the desk drawer?